Croatia is the unrivaled jewel of the Adriatic Sea. The country shares borders with Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Hungary, and Montenegro. As a result, Croatia is the ideal starting point for a Balkan adventure. It’s tempting to spend all your time exploring medieval cities, foraging for truffles, and visiting Game of Thrones filming locations. But, when in Croatia, consider a visit to the historic city of Budapest – just a few hours away! The Hungarian capital is located on the River Danube with thermal spas, neo-Gothic architecture, and a Fisherman’s Bastion to explore. Getting from Zagreb to Budapest is simple – here’s how!
The journey from Zagreb to Budapest takes around 3.5 hours. It’s a relatively easy drive along the M7 in Croatia, which joins the E71 highway once you cross the border into Hungary. The drive is approximately 350 kilometres long, and you may encounter a few delays at the border. Although both Croatia and Hungary are part of the European Union, Croatia is not part of the open-border Schengen Area. Therefore, make sure that you have your passport with you. There are several rental car companies in Zagreb that allow you to drop the vehicle off in a different location. Remember to check with the agency prior to renting, as some won’t insure cross-border travel. The drive to Budapest is scenic and straightforward, passing beautiful Lake Balaton – the perfect place to relax along the way.
There are several daily buses departing from Zagreb to Budapest. The journey takes between 4.5-5 hours, providing ample opportunity to meet like-minded adventurers en-route. Buses depart from Zagreb’s Autobusni Kolodvor – the main hub for domestic and international travel in Croatia. Single journey tickets with Flixbus or Nomago cost between $15 and $46, depending on service level and how early you reserve your ticket. On arrival in Budapest, the route finishes at Nepliget Hst 5, 10 minutes from the city center. You can easily continue your onward journey via bus or tram into the heart of Budapest.
A private transfer offers a hassle-free and comfortable way to travel from Zagreb to Budapest. You can request collection from your hotel and ask the driver to break at any places of interest along the way. Lake Balaton, Varazdin, and Siófok (on the Hungarian side of the lake) are popular rest area attractions. Costs range from $270 for a 3 passengers vehicle to $410 for 6 passengers.
There are 2 daily express trains to Budapest from Zagreb. They run in the morning and afternoon with an approximate travel time of 6.5 hours. Tickets cost between $22 – $60 depending on service level and whether you book in advance. It’s a great way to travel, without border queues or the need to navigate unfamiliar roads or airports!
Several airlines fly from Zagreb to Budapest, although there are currently no direct flights. The journey generally involve a connection in Frankfurt, Vienna, or Warsaw. The journey time, including layover, averages 5-6 hours. Flying to Budapest from Zagreb isn’t the most convenient option! With transfers and check-in times, it may take 10 hours to reach your destination. However, if you still prefer to fly, LOT Polish Airlines offers tickets starting from $145 for a single journey.